From Historic Cemeteries to Gay Pride Week, Key West is Full of Surprises
We toured Key West’s historic areas, including the cemetery, the final resting place for a general mixture of everyday folks, from all heritages and socio-economic backgrounds. One section is reserved for victims of the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine (the incident that started the Spanish-American War in 1898). Veterans from other wars are buried here, as well.
The ornate tombstones sported symbols that signified different things: anchors signify hope, broken columns and tilted crosses are symbols for death, a wreath stands for eternity, clasped hand mean farewell or friendship, a lamb or a cherub signifies the death of a child, a pansy stands for humility, a rose means love, and so on. An open book was a symbol for divine knowledge.
I’m sure many of you have heard of this tombstone from Key West’s most famous hypochondriac:
And I loved this one because it reminded me of an old married couple’s bed:
We arrived during Gay Pride Week, an unusual experience for us! The parade was original, complete with color guard and baton twirlers and drill teams dressed in bright red t-shirts emblazoned with the word “(out)rageous”, camouflage shorts, and Doc Martens. They danced suggestively with rifles to “Dream Girls”.
Gay Pride Week is not really child-friendly, mostly because of some of the street booth wares. I enjoyed the jewelry offerings, though, and bought a bracelet that looks like a rattlesnake skin but is made from a coconut. I’m told carrying a bit of coconut shell with you is good luck for travel.
Later in the day, we drove to Fort Zachary Taylor to watch the sunset. Turned out that the parking lot was also the parade’s staging area. As we drove past to the fort’s entrance, my husband commented on a man in a lime green thong, but I was distracted by a naked tin man, with the funnel on his head and covered in silver paint.
The Fort itself was interesting. Of course, back in the 1850s, supply shortages, storms, wool uniforms and yellow fever made life pretty miserable. The park ranger was a young guy. His father was there, as well, and the four of us talked for over an hour. We discussed everything from the history of the fort to the problem of affordable housing to good places to eat. I’d forgotten my camera, so I didn’t get a picture of the sunset. Or the naked tin man. Some things are just better left undocumented. At sunset, I watched, but saw no green flash, by the sun OR the moon!
The police just leaned back against their cars and watched it all. For some reason, it all works there. Folks CAN mix well. We just have to all agree to do it.
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